Last Call for Tax Amnesty

Friday is the deadline for businesses to take advantage of the city's tax amnesty program.

So far, 5,000 businesses have paid back taxes without being fined, netting the city $8.9 million in revenue.

When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveiled the program in early June, he had hoped to collect $10 million in back taxes to help narrow the city's $530 million deficit.

He again urged businesses to take advantage of a "golden opportunity."

"Businesses still have time to clear their tax records without paying any of the normally required penalties," Villaraigosa said. "By paying their fair share of city taxes, businesses support the essential services that make our city safe and vibrant."

City Controller Wendy Greuel called it "a win-win for everyone."

Finance Director Antoinette Christovale warned that on Aug. 1, the city will go after scofflaws again, and fine them up to 40 percent of their original debt.

"When the tax amnesty program concludes, we'll be stepping up our enforcement actions and vigorously pursuing unregistered businesses and those with delinquencies," she said.

Christovale has said about 20 percent of the companies that operate in or do business with the city of Los Angeles have unpaid business taxes or under- reported gross receipts. She believes the total debt to the city is about $280 million.

The amnesty program applies to Los Angeles business taxes; telephone, electricity and gas user taxes; commercial tenant occupancy tax; transient occupancy tax; and parking occupancy tax. Companies have an option to pay business taxes in installments over a year.

To participate in the amnesty program, those in arrears must call the L.A. Tax Amnesty Hotline at 213-978-1555 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or sign up at www.lacity.org/finance/amnesty.

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